Mexico Beach successfully completed the last phase of its largest ever artificial reef project at a cost of $629,000.

 

 

 

Mexico Beach successfully completed the last phase of its largest ever artificial reef project at a cost of $629,000.

The Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) Phase III (Early Restoration Plan) provided $1,374,185 for the five-phased project that got underway on Sept. 15, 2016 and finished May 9.. The project added 47 new reef arrays and expanded 12 existing reefs in State waters.

Structures consisted of 20 Super Reefs, 276 Florida Limestone Artificial Reefs, 30 Grouper Reefs, 179 piling mounted Ecosystems, and four pedestal mounted Ecosystems for a total of 509 structures.

Of the new reefs, 10 are among the largest ever built by Mexico Beach.

The final and largest phase began on April 21 with eight days planned for construction.

However, hazardous weather and marine conditions created delays taking 19 days to complete the job.

Nearly 180 Ecosystem structures mounted on 20-foot composite pilings driven 15-feet into the seafloor to withstand strong storm surges and waves at depths of 18-28 feet were installed.

Each Ecosystem structure consists of three steel reinforced concrete discs layered and embedded with natural limestone and shells to replicate small crevices and spaces found on natural reefs. The project also included the installation of 30 Grouper Reefs installed at depths of 60-80 feet. The Grouper Reefs are also designed to replicate natural reefs by replicating cavernous ledges found on natural reefs.

This NRDA project began with a design concept and application in 2011 as part of a larger Panhandle (Bay to Escambia Counties) project allocated $11.4 Million.

Bob Cox, President of the Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association (MBARA), said, “It was a long journey from the application submission, numerous meetings, drafting agreements and proposal requests, awarding contracts, and numerous days of deployment work.”

Mexico Beach was the first in the Panhandle region to “get wet” with reef installations. Furthermore, Mexico Beach completed its entire project before anyone else in the Panhandle got anything in the water.

Cox said, “This was due to diligent efforts of MBARA, the City of Mexico Beach, and FWC. We knew this large Panhandle project was going keep contractors busy and backlogged and we wanted to proceed early to get Mexico Beach’s portion done and out of the way of progress for the counties west of us.

“We also appreciate all the volunteers that supported the reef construction efforts by donating their time, using their personal boats, marking reef sites insuring all the reef structures were placed in their planned locations, and supervising the proper installations.”

Dedicated volunteers save time and money getting the best reefs possible for the dollars, Cox continued.

Walter Marine provided the services for all five phases of the project and did an outstanding job. Cox also pointed out that Walter Marine helped the State and local community by donating its services in removing and disposing of a derelict 35-foot steel barge that ended up being unsuitable for artificial reef use.

MBARA is one of the most successful artificial reef organizations in the State run by volunteers. MBARA needs more volunteers to help with fundraising and projects.

If you want to get involved, please attend MBARA’s monthly meetings held the first Thursday of the month at the Mexico Beach Civic Center at 5:30 p.m. CT. If you are unable to volunteer, you can still help by donating to MBARA or becoming an annual member by visiting www.MBARA.org